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Inventory of the California State Senate Public Safety Committee Records
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Committee History
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Collections at the California State Archives
  • Note to researchers

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: California State Senate Public Safety Committee Records
    Dates: 1997-2006
    Collection number: LP373
    Creator: Senate Public Safety Committee
    Collection Size: 64 cubic feet
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Abstract: The Senate Public Safety Committee was created in 1997, replacing and assuming the responsibilities of the Senate Criminal Procedure Committee. The Senate Public Safety Committee Records consist of 64 cubic feet of records reflecting the activity of the California State Senate that were deemed to fall under the jurisdiction of this standing committee for review and/or revision.
    Physical location: California State Archives
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the California State Archives. Permission for reproduction or publication is given on behalf of the California State Archives as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement which may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives collections.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Senate Public Safety Committee Records, LP[number]:[folder number], California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

    Acquisition History

    The California State Archives acquired the Senate Public Safety Committee records according to state law.

    Committee History

    The Senate Public Safety Committee was created in 1997, replacing and assuming the responsibilities of the Senate Criminal Procedure Committee. During the 1997-1998 legislative session, Senate Resolution 9 (Lockyer) changed the name at the request of the committee chair. The committee originally consisted of eight members and hears bills relating to "the Evidence Code, pertaining to criminal procedure, the Penal Code, statutes of a penal nature not related closely to a subject included in another subdivision of this rule, and bills relating to the Youth and Adult Corrections Agency" (California Legislature at Sacramento, 1997, p104).
    The committee spent much of its time on drug enforcement issues, focusing on such areas as crystal methamphetamine, crystal methamphetamine production and child endangerment, treatment and rehab versus punishment, marijuana, medical marijuana, ecstasy (MDMA or methylenedioxymethamphetamine). Many of the drug enforcement related bills indicate tension over punishing first time, nonviolent drug offenders and providing rehabilitation.
    By 1999, the committee had shrunk to six members (California Legislature at Sacramento, 1999-2000, p65). Yet, in 2005, the committee changed to seven members then went back to six with the loss of committee chair Senator Alquist (California Legislature at Sacramento, 2005-06, p118). The state senators to have held the position of Public Safety Committee Chair are as follows: John Vasconcellos (Dem.), 1997-2004, Elaine K. Alquist (Dem.), 2005, and Carole V. Migden (Dem.), 2006.

    Scope and Content

    The Senate Public Safety Committee Records consist of 64 cubic feet of records reflecting the activity of the California State Senate that were deemed to fall under the jurisdiction of this standing committee for review and/or revision. These records consist of bill files covering the years 1997-2006; hearing files, 1999-2006; and subject files, 1999-2005. It is anticipated that the Archives will receive further records from the Senate Public Safety Committee. Researchers should check for recently received, unprocessed records of this committee.
    The bill files pertain to criminal law and general public safety issues. These issues include drug enforcement, sex crimes, and "three strikes" laws. Additionally, this committee received many sex crime bills, including the following topics: monitoring, recidivism, child molestation enhancements, Jessica's Law, Megan's Law, Internet pornography, child pornography, predator activity, stalking, "one strike," and "good Samaritan" laws. Many sex crime bills were concerned with child safety and the Internet.
    The Senate Public Safety Committee received many bills on identity theft and privacy in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Bill and hearing topics included social security number protection, attempts at limiting credit card solicitations, and criminalizing identity theft. Early attempts at limiting credit card solicitations did not succeed. While privacy was important, the legislature favored background checks to enhanced public safety over the privacy of applicants for jobs at schools. As with privacy, the legislature struggled over gang membership and public safety issues. In order to curb the influence of gangs, the legislature saw many bills relating to membership and association, gangs in prisons, and sentence enhancements for committing a crime while associated with a gang. Freedom of association and community level approaches to gang reduction often conflicted with traditional approaches to policing, including mass arrests and profiling, in the bills the committee received.
    The state prison system, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), formerly the California Youth Authority (CYA), occupied much of the Senate Public Safety Committee's time. Specific issues include prison reform, prisoner rehabilitation and recidivism, overcrowding, the building of new prisons and private prisons, free speech and press access to prisons, prisoner abuse, holding prison guards accountable, medical care for inmates, gang, racial discrimination, county jail regulations. The Little Hoover Commission submitted several studies in support of prison reform. The legislature made an attempt each year at overturning the CDCR's rules restricting press access to prisoners; however, the governor vetoed each bill.
    Victim's rights became a national concern in the 1990s and California was no exception. The Public Safety Committee saw numerous bills concerning victim's rights, from integrating video conferencing into criminal hearings to increasing who has access to restitution funds. The status of victims in the criminal process was controversial as the state struggled to ensure that both the victim and the accused were represent equally in court.
    Gun control remains a contentious issue. Such topics heard in committee were gun shows, assault weapon categories, pistols and "Saturday night special" quality regulation, bullet serial numbers, concealed firearms permits, sentencing enhancements for crimes committed with a firearm. The legislature attempted to find a cost-effective method of regulating firearms and preventing criminals and children from acquiring illegal and dangerous firearms. After the September 11, 2001 attack, terrorism became a national concern. The Public Safety Committee received bills and held hearings pertaining to payment for terrorism responses.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    California. Legislature. Senate. Committee on Public Safety
    Sex crimes
    Gun control
    Drugs Law and legislation

    Related Collections at the California State Archives

    John Vasconcellos Papers
    Assembly Public Safety Committee Records

    Note to researchers

    Researchers interested in this committee are advised to check the papers of its Chairs. Committee Chairs often kept materials relating to committee operations among their personal files. For Chair papers available at the California State Archives or other repositories, this information can be found in the committee history.